The application of modern control science to the optimization of biotechnological processes comes up to against 2 major problems: the difficulty of representing the dynamics of living microorganisms by validated mathematical models; the lack of cheap and reliable instrumentation for online measurement of the biological variables required to implement high performance automatic control strategies.
Research was carried out in order to develop an integrated set of algorithms and software tools for automatic monitoring and computer control of biotechnological processes with a view to yield optimization. Based on mathematical models of the plant dynamics the tools use specific instrumentation.
The algorithms are based on the most recent advances of nonlinear systems theory, in a way adapted to the specific biological characteristics of bioprocesses.
New devices for online monitoring of bioprocesses have been developed involving an automatic sensor for bicarbonate measurement, an in situ sterilizable interface for the online connection of bioreactors to sophisticated analysers and a flow injection analysis system for online glucose measurement.
New algorithms for advanced monitoring and control of bioprocesses have been developed for software sensors for online estimation of biological parameters that are not accessible through direct measurements and for robust nonlinear (adaptive) controllers for the stabilization and the optimization of biological variables (substrates and metabolites) in bioreactors. A dedicated workstation named CAMBIO has been designed for interactive computer aided modelling, simulation and experimental design of processes.
Validation on pilot and industrial plants have covered a wide range of potential applications involving pharmaceutical and biomedical products, food industries and biological waste treatment.